While the returning players — chiefly the surprise returns of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn — gave Illini basketball fans plenty to be excited about, the hype around this Illini team grew to a fever pitch with the arrival of Adam Miller. His ties to the Illini run deep, having played with current players Ayo Dosunmu and Da’Monte Williams previously and having been part of the AAU’s Mac Irvin Fire, a recent Illini basketball pipeline. The home-grown, blue-chip recruit was drawn to the “doing it at home” mantra, started by Dosunmu’s commitment to the Illini in 2017.
His versatility and defensive intensity struck a chord with Illini head coach Brad Underwood when they visited him as an up-and-coming sophomore. Per Decatur’s Herald & Review:
“I thought he was as dominant as any player on the court as a sophomore and he did it on the defensive end,” Underwood said. “That impression has never left. Adam has turned into one of the outstanding two-way players in (high school) basketball.”
With Herald & Review, Underwood continued his lavish praise of Miller’s well-rounded game and how well he fits with the rest of the incoming freshmen:
“He’s extremely athletic young man with a terrific body and has the ability to not only play the point, but he has the ability to shoot it as well as anybody in the country. He does that with deep, deep range. He has a game that is high IQ. He’s a very, very willing and unselfish passer. You add that component with the two other young men (four-star guard Andre Curbelo and three-star forward Coleman Hawkins) that we signed in the fall and we’re really excited about the IQ and the feel that this group has as basketball players.”
His offensive talent, defensive versatility, athleticism, and high IQ should fit well with the culture of Underwood’s Illini basketball.
What to Expect
With the rotation still to be ironed out, look for Miller to see plenty of minutes early at the 2 or 3, despite the many returning contributors. The Illini need to replace the steady scoring efforts of Andres Feliz and Alan Griffin, the latter being the Illini’s best three-point shooter from last season. Miller should thrive in this Alan Griffin-type role, as his projected plus shooting should benefit from the defensive presence that Cockburn demands and complement Dosunmu’s primary strengths as a short- and intermediate-range scorer.
Miller’s presence should also open driving lanes for wing players and post up opportunities for Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Kofi Cockburn, making life infinitely easier offensively this season.
He likely won’t be tasked with primary ballhandling responsibilities with senior Trent Frazier and fellow blue-chip freshman Andre Curbelo in the fold. This roster will maximize Miller’s offensive talents while not tasking him with additional responsibilities as a primary facilitator or defensive stopper, critically important for any young player transitioning to the college game.
The arrival of Adam Miller, along with the rest of the incoming and returning players, has risen the expectations for this Illini team to heights unseen since the legendary 2004-05 squad, and it is about time the Illini make some noise come March.